Education

Crim Elementary stages musical to make learning fun

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The backstage was buzzing with nervous actors. The frog and toad were preparing for their big scenes. The snail was brushing up on her slow motion moves. The squirrels were getting ready to make a mess. And the understudies were standing by. In front of the stage, on the gymnasium floor, the eager audience sat with their legs criss-cross applesauce style. When the curtains opened, an excited “ooooooooohhhhh” filled the gym. That’s just the reaction second grade teacher Stacey Higgins was hoping for with the debut of the first musical Thursday at Crim Elementary School. A dress rehearsal was performed in the morning for fellow students, with the big show to occur in the afternoon for parents and other fans. The musical, “A Year with Frog and Toad Jr.” featured all the second grade students – an ambitious endeavor with such young students. “It ties in with our curriculum on the seasons,” Higgins was quick to say. But she added that the performance was also something more. “They need these types of experiences,” she said. “Too much time is spent testing and preparing for tests. We need to get back to making school meaningful and enjoyable for kids.” The musical got the kids singing, dancing, acting, reading narration and designing the colorful set. That is all learning, Higgins stressed. “We want them to have experiences other than just taking tests.” As the audience filed into the gym, and the second graders fidgeted back stage, Higgins admitted to being a little nervous herself. “It’s a good nervous,” she said. “This if the first…


Michigan author Patricia Polacco Literacy in the Park guest

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University’s annual Literacy in the Park event will feature popular children’s author Patricia Polacco. The Lansing native has written and illustrated more than 115 books for children in addition to being a playwright and penning for adults. She is a much-sought-after lecturer and keynote speaker. Some of her most popular books include “The Keeping Quilt,” “Thunder Cake” and “Thank you, Mr. Falker.” Presented by BGSU’s College of Education and Human Development, Literacy in the Park will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 29, at Perry Field House. The event is free and open to the public. Last year, more than 2,000 people attended the event. Literacy in the Park, which has taken place for more than a decade, promotes the importance of literacy in the lives of children and features more than 40 interactive exhibitor booths and displays. The focus of the event has been expanded to address all of the different ways literacy is important in our lives. In addition to reading and writing activities, families will have opportunities to engage in activities about digital literacy, science and environmental literacy, financial literacy, nutritional literacy, physical education literacy and many other forms of literacy that can be found in their lives and communities. In addition to these literacy-related activities going on throughout the day, there will also be entertainment on the main stage and two presentations from Polacco. Born in Michigan, Polacco’s family on her mother’s side were Jewish immigrants from Russia and the Ukraine, and her father’s people were from the County of Limerick in Ireland….


Tickets on sale for BG High’s production of “Shrek”

From BGHS THEATRE The musical “Shrek”  is based on the beloved Dreamwork’s cartoon about an ogre, named Shrek, who along with several other fairy-tale creatures who are forced off their land by the evil Lord Farquaad.k the Musical” The show will be on stage at the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center, April 20-22  at 7 p.m. and April 23 at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at showtix4u.com until April 14. Then tickets can be purchased at the PAC box office April 17-19th from 3-6 pm. In an attempt to regain his land, Shrek decides to take Lord Farquaad’s challenge to rescue the “fair Princess Fiona” from a tower that happens to be guarded by a dragon. Shrek, with his “trusty steed” Donkey, and Fiona make the journey towards Lord Farquaad’s kingdom. Along the way, Shrek and Fiona discover that they are now friends who are also in love. The play teaches us to love our true natures which sometimes include “our warts and all.” Shrek is played by junior, Justin McKenzie. Fiona is played by junior Elaine Hudson. Donkey is played by senior Josh Coleman with the voice of “the dragon” sung by Olivia Strang. Lord Farquaad is performed by senior Micah McKanna. The cast includes  Rachel Amburgey, Stephanie Bell, Alex Bellavia, Sophia Bird, Hannah Bowlus, Abraham Brockway, Ethan Brown, Natalie Carty, Alyssa Clemens, Megan Clifford, Brian Condon, Nova Cullison, Kaitlyn Dorman, Fran Flores, Saralynn George, Sophi Hachtel, Devon Jackson, Moe Kellow, Sarah Kelly, Sarah Kerr, Darin Kirchner, Hailey Kirchner, Luke Kobylski, Dea Kukeli, Thomas Long, Jadyn Lundquest, Julie Maas, Michael Martin, Jessica Miller, Darryl Moorehead, Sophia Nelson, Naila Ortega, Hudson Pendleton, Mr….


BG Schools athletic director resigns after 9 months

The athletic director hired by Bowling Green City Schools last June has resigned after getting an opportunity he couldn’t refuse. As the district begins its search for a new athletic director to replace Jonas Smith, former athletic director Mike Vannett has agreed to fill the position on an interim basis. “He was offered a position that he couldn’t pass up,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said Friday afternoon about Smith. Smith did not reveal what the position was, but said there would be a press conference Saturday announcing his new job. Scruci said he is pleased with the job Smith did in his brief stay at Bowling Green. Smith, whose annual salary was $90,000, believed in putting academics ahead of athletics and believed in being accessible to parents. Prior to coming to Bowling Green, Smith served as athletic director for Dayton Public Schools, where he oversaw seven high schools and a $3.6 million renovation of the district’s Welcome Stadium. Scruci said he was attracted to Smith’s 20 years of experience overseeing a large program, his reputation in the state, his winning record at Dayton, and his success securing corporate sponsorships for the renovated stadium. When hired last summer to replace retiring Scott Seeliger, Smith said he was attracted to the “very welcoming” community, the good schools, and the potential to build relationships in Bowling Green.


Horizon Youth Theatre presents 2017 Festival of Shorts

Submitted by Horizon Youth Theatre Horizon Youth Theatre is pleased to announce its 2017 Festival of Shorts. Three different shows will consist of one act plays written and acted by students; monologues by students from Cassie Greenlee’s Character Acting & Monologue workshop; and the emcee talents of Scarlet Frishman and Katie Partlow. Performances are at Otsego Elementary School, 18505 Tontogany Creek Road, on Friday March 31 and Saturday April 1 at 7:00 pm; and Sunday April 2 at 2:00 pm. Admission is by donation. The plays, with their performance days and cast lists, are as follows: Featherwary by The 2017 Devising Class, directed by Keith Guion Performing Friday and Sunday Cast: Firecloud, an elf-dragon thief – Alexandra Roberts-Zibbel Lainey, a mushroom fairy – Paige Suelzer Penny, a bewildered sudden visitor – Katie Partlow Tim Brown II, a squatter and housekeeper – Eli Marx Vanessa West, a spoiled, rich brat – Emma Kate Holbrook Dr. Cecilia Goldberg, a medical prodigy – Grace Holbrook Greenhouse by Bindi Hoskay, directed by Terra Sloane with mentor Brittany Albrecht Performing Friday and Saturday Cast: Gardener – Ethan Headley Daisy – Isobel Roberts-Zibbel Sunflower – Scarlett Strausbaugh Rose – Calista Wilkins Primrose – Alice Walters Shopper 1 – Noah Carpenter Shopper 2 – Lydia Korzeniewski Shopper 3 – Elise Allen Gwen – Izzy Douglass Home? by Alexandra Roberts-Zibbel & Rose Walters, directed by Alli Kulbago Performing Friday and Saturday Cast: Mom – Sasha Meade Karsyn – Lydia Mackiewicz Cassidy – Lauren Clifford Penny – Bindi Hoskay Peyton – Gray Frishman The Secret Alliance for Lonely Kids by Terra Sloane, directed by Kelly Frailly Performing Friday and…


School board wants to wash away shower room woes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Board of Education agreed to seek bids for a project that few people will actually see – but some may smell the results. The board voted unanimously Tuesday evening to go out for bids for repairs to the boys shower room in the high school locker room. Large cracks in the room have meant athletes and gym students have not been able to use the showers. The estimated cost for the work is $373,800, according to Kent Buehrer, of Buehrer Group. In addition to fixing the shower room, the project will also make other improvements. “Whenever you go into a 50-year-old building for renovations, there are other issues,” Buehrer told the board.  Improvements will make the area ADA compliant, add adequate storage and increase the training room space. “We’re trying to get the most bang out of the buck,” Buehrer said. The board also approved going out for bids for resurfacing of the track, with an estimated cost of $75,000. The new track surface will be latex, which should last eight to 10 years. With routine maintenance, it could last even longer, Scruci said. Both projects are scheduled to take two months to complete, which is an “aggressive” schedule, Buehrer said. In other business, Scruci gave an update on the 2,000 surveys mailed out to random district residents on the school building options. As of Monday, 300 had been returned, which is a rate of 15 percent. Another 300 online survey questionnaires have been submitted. The results of the survey will be presented at the board’s meeting in April….


JoBeth Gonzalez inducted into Ohio EdTA Hall of Fame

From THE EDUCATIONAL THEATRE ASSOCIATION: OHIO CHAPTER The Educational Theatre Association: Ohio Chapter (Ohio EdTA) is thrilled to announce the Hall of Fame induction of Dr. JoBeth Gonzalez and Mr. Scott Wilson. Dr. JoBeth Gonzalez – known affectionately as Dr. G by her students – has been a leading advocate for theatre education in Ohio for decades. As a teacher at Bowling Green High School, she has directed innumerable plays and musicals, and served as the long-time leader of her school’s thespian troupe. Over 23 years at BGHS, she has earned a reputation for addressing challenging subjects of special relevance to her students, including eating disorders, teen suicide, bullying, and human trafficking. “Several years ago, JoBeth and I were part of a research group called Critical Links at the Educational Theatre Association. I had known JoBeth prior to that project, but became even more aware of the depth of care that she brings every day to her students and to her craft,” says Irene Imboden, Ohio EdTA co-director. “JoBeth is my inspiration. I often tease her, saying ‘When I grow up, I want to be JoBeth.’” Gonzalez is the author of two books: “Temporary Stages” and “Temporary Stages II: Critically-Oriented Drama Education,” which have inspired many theatre teachers to provide audition feedback rather than posting of cast lists. She is the past president for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the 2014-2015 Ohio EdTA Theatre Educator of the Year, and Bowling Green State University College of Education and Human Development’s 2016 Educator of the Year. Scott Wilson has taught theatre in Westerville, Olentangy and Columbus Public Schools for 19…


‘Buddy Benches’ bring smiling faces to playgrounds

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Chris Ostrowski still gets choked up when he reads the note from the Kenwood Elementary student thanking the Kiwanis Club for the “Buddy Bench” on the school playground. “I am a new kid at my school so I do not have any friends to play with at school. So sometimes I sit by a tree and do not play or I play by myself,” she wrote. “It is not fun and all the other new kids have someone to play with but I do not,” she continued. “I am in Kenwood right now so soon I will have a friend very soon. So thank you for thinking of the bench, so much.” Ostrowski keeps the thank you notes on file in his office. And though Kenwood staff presented a program on the new Buddy Benches during the Bowling Green Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening – the pencil scrawled notes with pictures of smiling children on benches seem to tell the story as well. “I am grateful for Buddy Benches because last year I had nobody to play with and I was sad, and I don’t want nobody to have nobody to play with,” one student wrote. The benches were installed on all the elementary school playgrounds in Bowling Green. Their purpose is to be a place for children without playmates to sit, so other children will ask them to join in. “Recess can be a very challenging time for students,” Kenwood Principal Kathleen Daney told the school board. “A lot of feelings happen there.” The idea for the benches came to…


Funding defended for programs Trump wants to slash

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   While President Donald Trump’s administration is attacking the value of federally funded community programs, the proof is right here in Wood County. Local officials suggested the administration look at the seniors kept in their homes by the Meals on Wheels program, the children nourished through the WIC program, and the small villages improved through the CDBG program. When Trump’s budget proposal was unveiled Thursday, the winners were the military and border control. The losers were the arts, the environment, the poor, the elderly and the very young. And the cuts weren’t made with a scalpel, but with a guillotine. Local officials who normally make tempered responses to hot button political issues could no longer bite their tongues. When Mick Mulvaney, the president’s budget director, said the Meals on Wheels cuts were justified because the program was “just not showing any results,” the comments pushed Denise Niese past her normally polite poise. “I heard that last night and I was appalled,” said Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. The local Meals on Wheels program is not as dependent as some areas on the federal funding, but it is vital to local residents, serving 132,000 meals last year. Sometimes it’s difficult to collect hard data on social services, but Niese said the proof is in the pudding – and all the other menu items. “We do know that people with home-delivered meals can maintain themselves in their homes at a much lower cost than going into long-term care,” she said. Considering the fact that the local Meals on Wheels cost…


BG Schools program focuses on positive behaviors

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s hard to teach science theories, sentence dissection, or just about anything when kids are acting up. So Bowling Green City Schools are adopting a program called PBIS – Positive Behavior Intervention Supports. The program provides consistent rules throughout the district and reinforces positive behaviors by students. In order to have good learning environments, “we have to get the behaviors under control,” Crim Principal Melanie Garbig said during a recent board of education meeting. Each school in the district has a PBIS team, spearheaded by the guidance counselors, with the goal to have the program fully implemented next year. The program reinforces the same expectations to all students – from preschoolers to seniors. Students are reminded to be responsible for themselves, respectful of others, and safe in their schools. That common language will follow the students every year of school. “Those expectations are going to be the same,” Garbig said. “I think it’s going to make a difference.” The PBIS program focuses on positive reinforcement. Students caught being good are given “pride” slips. “Pride” postcards signed by teachers, are addressed to children and mailed to their homes. “It’s a way to celebrate the positive behaviors,” said teacher Stacey Higgins. Posters stating expectations of students are placed around the school, defining good behavior in the hallways, cafeteria, playground, bus, or during assemblies. To trick is to make it fun to behave. Crim staff and students made a video showing examples of bad and good behavior. The twist was that the teachers were the ones misbehaving, and the students were schooling them. The video…


BG students speak up without making a sound

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the students in Laura Weaver’s class last week practiced a new language, there were no new words coming from their mouths. They were talking with their hands. The fifth grade students in the PACE gifted and talented class held at Kenwood Elementary were learning American Sign Language. They fired off words, asking for their signs – please, thank you, hello, family, numbers – and the necessities like cookie, ice cream and popcorn. Marta Crow, a retired Penta Career Center teacher for hearing impaired students, kept up with their requests. The theme in Weaver’s class this year is “communication,” so she thought it would be good for the students to learn unspoken language. “I wanted them to understand the foundation of it,” she said. And the lessons went beyond the words themselves. “You have to understand diversity and adversity,” Weaver added. “It just seemed like the right thing to do with these kids.” “We’re so used to speaking language, when you don’t hear it, it’s a whole different world,” she said. Weaver planned to take the sign language lesson further later in the week, with students putting in ear plugs and trying to communicate. They would also be creating clay hands forming a sign language symbol. “I’ve got 50 pounds of clay waiting,” she said, smiling. And then they might give Braille a try. “That could be something cool to try,” Weaver said. Meanwhile, the students were mastering some simple sentences in sign – many having to do with cookies and popcorn. And they were learning that placement of the hands is…


Trump ruling won’t change BG Schools’ transgender policy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Despite President Donald Trump revoking restroom rights of transgender youth in public schools, Bowling Green City Schools plans to continue accommodating the students. The Trump administration recently withdrew Obama-era protections for transgender students in public schools that let them use bathrooms and facilities corresponding with their gender identity. That change won’t affect Bowling Green schools, according to Superintendent Francis Scruci. “We were already accommodating kids before” President Barack Obama’s ruling, so they will continue doing so now, Scruci said on Monday. “We’re going to do what’s right for kids,” he said. Scruci referred to a non-discrimination policy adopted by the board of education in 2014. That stands, regardless of an attempt by Trump to revoke rights of transgender students. “We’re still going to protect kids and give them a safe place and a non-threatening environment,” he said. Last year, when the Obama administration issued the restroom order, Bowling Green High School was already accommodating transgender students. Principal Jeff Dever said last year the high school already had taken steps to make transgender students feel safe and welcome – by allowing students to use the restroom for the gender they identify as, and by calling students by their chosen names and pronouns. “What I have heard from students is their greatest angst comes from using the restroom,” he said. “I understand that completely.” The school also tries to accommodate transgender students in other ways. As soon as the student identifies as the other sex, the staff is instructed to use the student’s chosen name and matching pronoun. “I’ve been told anecdotally that we…


BG Schools to survey citizens on building options

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green area residents will soon get to grade school building options in the district. Over the past nine months, Superintendent Francis Scruci held several open houses in different settings to find out if citizens want to construct new buildings, renovate the old, or do nothing. But he kept seeing the same faces at the meetings. So he reached out to a survey firm used in the past to gauge citizen opinion. But the customary $4,000 price tag had jumped to $12,500 due to the complications of using cell phones rather than landlines. Another firm was consulted, but cost even more, at $25,000. So Bowling Green State University professor Shannon Orr offered up her public administration graduate students to do the job, for $4,000. The surveys will be mailed out later this week to 2,000 randomly selected taxpayers in the Bowling Green School District. The surveys have just 10 questions with many of them concerning demographics. The meat of the survey asks residents to rank the building options for the district. Those choices are: Combine the three elementary schools into one new building, and build a new high school. Combine the three elementary schools into one new building, and renovate the high school. Renovate Conneaut, Kenwood and the high school. Build a new Conneaut, and renovate Kenwood and the high school. Keep all the buildings as they are. Accompanying the survey is an explanation of the costs to renovate and build, plus the costs to taxpayers. The recently renovated Crim Elementary and BG Middle School are not included, since they are only…


Boys shower area fix could soak district for $425,000

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When it rains, it pours. That seems to go for showers as well. The Bowling Green Board of Education got the news Tuesday evening that repairs to the high school boys lockeroom shower area could cost between $380,000 and $425,000. “It’s not a cheap fix,” said Kent Buehrer, of Buehrer Group Architecture. Those estimates include fixing and reconfiguring the shower area, plus renovating the toilets, training room and coaches’ offices. The board was made aware of the shower problems last month when Superintendent Francis Scruci said boys were not able to shower after gym or athletics because the shower area had been shut off due to large cracks in the walls and floor. Buehrer showed slides of the area beneath the shower room floor, where the floor deck was sagging. He said this is a common problem in schools built in the 1960s and 1970s, where water leaks cause corrosion of the bar joists. So while the estimate was higher than expected, Buehrer did offer a small bit of good news. “The roof isn’t going to collapse. That’s a good thing,” he said. The heavy masonry wall in the center of the shower room has settled and is pulling away from the roof deck. While fixing the shower room, Buehrer suggested that the toilet area be updated to make it ADA accessible. The weight room, which has been in need of repairs for years, may also be added to the renovation project. Funding for the project will come from the school district’s permanent improvement levy, according to Treasurer Rhonda Melchi and board…


Scruci gets new three-year contract with schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci was given a three-year renewal of his contract Tuesday evening by the board of education. His annual salary is $144,000. The board praised Scruci’s work in the district and gave him unanimous support. “Thank you for all that you do for us,” Board President Ellen Scholl said to Scruci. During his 18 months as superintendent, Scruci has been a very visible presence in the community. He holds regular “coffees” with the public, and produces weekly videos about what is happening in the district. He has been a steady presence at extra-curricular events, creating positive relationships with students. In an effort to get input from the community on handling school building needs, Scruci has held open meetings in each school building. His new contract will run from Aug. 1, 2018 to July 31, 2021. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Scruci informed the board that he feels compelled to express his personal feelings about national and state issues that he believes are damaging to public education. The superintendent is no fan of newly confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. So he plans to send a letter to DeVos, asking her to come spend some time at Bowling Green City Schools. Scruci has been open about his strong reservations about DeVos, who is a proponent of charter schools. “Public education is being threatened,” Scruci said. DeVos’ confirmation must not distract schools from their focus on educating students, he added. “We can’t as a district allow ourselves to be consumed by this,” Scruci said. Public schools throughout the nation need to make it…